PHOENIX — Federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against 11 Arizonans accused of stealing Social Security benefits from deceased individuals.
The U.S. Attorney's Office of Arizona announced Monday it had filed charges against a group of defendants who are accused of collectively stealing up to $1.3 million in Social Security payments.
In some of the cases, benefits continued to be paid for years after the beneficiary died. Often the benefits were collected by relatives of the deceased beneficiary, prosecutors said.
The 11 Arizonans charged in federal court with various felony and misdemeanor crimes include:
- Patricia Munson
- Douglas Pasley
- Tamara Head
- Marva Martin
- Dennis Diaz
- Kristy Schlueter
- Freda Hunt
- Karen Hardesty
- Joseph McCullough
- Carol Harmon
- Diana Fast
A conviction for theft of public funds carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.
During the investigation into Social Security fraud, federal investigators managed to recoup nearly $1.2 million in nine other cases that were resolved without filing criminal charges.
Up to Speed
Catch up on the latest news and stories on the 12 News YouTube channel. Subscribe today.
Arizona's Silent Witness program allows people to send in tips and share information about crimes happening within their local communities.
The program shares unsolved felony case information in multiple ways, including TV, radio and social media.
Anyone who has information on a crime or recognizes a suspect described by the program is asked to call 480-948-6377, go to the program's website online or download the Silent Witness app to provide a tip. The identity of anyone who submits a tip is kept anonymous.
Calls to Silent Witness are answered 24/7 by a live person and submitted tips are accepted at all times. Submitted tips are then sent to the detective(s) in charge of the specific case.
Individuals who submit tips that lead to an arrest or indictment in the case can get a reward of up to $1,000.